Vocational Education and Training in Estonia

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One of a series of studies on vocational education and training, this review assesses the vocational education and training (VET) in Estonia and provides policy recommendations.

Estonia does very well in terms of student achievement on PISA, and the results from the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) are also excellent. Unemployment levels are low. But despite recent reforms, VET remains relatively low status compared to general education, dropout rates are too high for comfort, and apprenticeships, despite recent efforts, fail to attract many young people. Suggested approaches to improve VET in Estonia include the expansion of work-based learning within all VET programmes and measures to increase the number of apprentices. Tackling dropout should be done by a set of complementary measures, including support in basic skills for those students lagging behind. Building pathways between VET and general education options can help improve the status of VET. More and better career guidance, especially before the key grade 9 transition point, is also needed.



Executive summary

Over the past years, the Estonian vocational education and training (VET) system has undergone extensive reforms and developments. Reforms have aimed to create a clearer and more effective qualifications system to enhance employer engagement, to consolidate the school network and improve school facilities, to increase work-based learning and develop apprenticeship, and to meet the needs of both young people and adults in a framework of lifelong learning. Effective arrangements are in place to prepare teachers of vocational subjects. Basic school outcomes, as measured by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), are outstanding, and participation in upper secondary education is near-universal. These are impressive achievements. But challenges remain in improving the status of the VET system so as it can raise to its potential in the skills system of a rapidly changing economy, and in overcoming equity challenges. This report assesses the strengths of the Estonian VET system, the challenges it faces, and makes proposals for how those challenges could be addressed.


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